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Handling the Holiday Season During COVID-19

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By Anna Spoelhof, FNP

Laurie Birkholz, MD, and Associates 

Holiday gatherings may look a little different this year, friends…

With COVID-19 cases increasing, I’ve had a lot of questions surrounding Thanksgiving & COVID-19. This pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many, and we are ALL feeling COVID-fatigued. 

Unfortunately, the  epidemic is worsening, and small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases. The CDC offers the following considerations to slow the spread of COVID-19 during small gatherings to help keep you and your loved ones healthy.

Considerations for Hosting or Attending a Gathering:

  • Limit the number of attendees as much as possible to allow people from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart. Guests should avoid direct contact, including handshakes and hugs, with others not from their household.
  • Avoid holding gatherings in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces with persons who are not in your household.
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows and doors to the extent that is safe and feasible based on the weather, or by placing central air and heating on continuous circulation.
  • Consider requiring guests to wear masks.
  • Set up hand-sanitizer stations throughout your house.
  • Limit contact with commonly touched surfaces or shared items, such as serving utensils.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between use when feasible. Use EPA-approved disinfectants.
  • Use touchless garbage cans if available. Use gloves when removing garbage bags or handling and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removing gloves.
  • Plan ahead… ask guests to avoid contact with people outside of their households for 14 days before the gathering.

The following people should not attend in-person holiday gatherings:

  1. Those with or exposed to COVID-19
  2. Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and have not met the criteria for when it is safe to be around others
  3. Those who have symptoms of COVID-19
  4. Those waiting for COVID-19 viral test results
  5. Those who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  6. Those at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
  7. Older adults or people with certain medical conditions who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.

If you are looking for the lowest-risk celebration, consider a virtual Thanksgiving, or only celebrating with members of your own household. 

Hang in there, friends, & stay safe!

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